MADEIRA BEACH – The city of Madeira Beach’s public parking lots have become a big revenue generator. The moneymaking prowess was evident at the May 13 City Commission meeting when a resolution was approved that increased the budgeted parking-related revenue by $450,000.
That would bring expected yearly income from the parking lots to around $1.5 million, an amount comparable to that generated by the ad valorem tax, the city’s major revenue source.
Changes made to the parking system in recent months include installation of automated pay stations, offering a variety of payment options, increasing the parking fee to $1.50 an hour and more sophisticated enforcement procedures. A turnaround in the economy and an increase in visitors to the city also helped, said City Manager Shane Crawford.
“A lot of people are coming here and putting money into the machines,” he said.
“We’re in a really good position (with the parking revenue),” Finance Director Vince Tenaglia said. “Last year we had a historically good number and this year will exceed that.”
Commission members were impressed to see the steep increase in revenue from the public parking lots.
“That’s just outstanding – an increase of $450,000,” said Mayor Travis Palladeno. “That number blows me away.”
Commissioner Terry Lister echoed the mayor’s praise.
“It’s outstanding,” said Lister, noting the lots at John’s Pass Village are “generally 100 percent full, especially on the weekends.”
A later resolution increasing the budgeted parking related expenditures by just $15,000 caused Tenaglia to comment, “Our parking revenue is increasing significantly and our expenses are decreasing significantly.”
This year the processing fees from the county have exceeded the budgeted amount, but the city recently went with a much lower-cost private contractor for that service.
Crawford said the city will find good uses for the windfall of funds.
“When you reinvent $450,000 worth of revenue in one year, you can afford to do some of these things that you’re looking at doing.”
Resident-owned parking lots
A shortage of parking spaces during several major city events is giving residents a moneymaking opportunity.
The commission approved a resolution establishing a fee for special event permit parking. For $25 a day or $100 a year, city residents are being allowed to turn their property into paid parking lots during specified events. Those are the John’s Pass Seafood Festival, John Levique Pirate Days and the city’s Fourth of July celebration.
During those times, Crawford said the city has been critically short of parking spaces.
“We need every spot in town available, and we’re trying to create as many parking places as possible,” he said.
Crawford hopes an answer will be more residents who want to let people park on their lawns for a charge. This could create many more parking spaces during the events, and let the residents share in the moneymaking potential that paid parking provides, he said.
By reducing the yearly fee from $250 to $100, Crawford said the city hopes to entice more residents to participate. The events are multiple-day affairs.
“We’ve had a lot of people do it, but we need a lot more,” Crawford said. “We want to incentivize these people to come in and pull a permit.”
Road project, event closures
Motorists can expect delays when a road improvement project begins on Gulf Boulevard the first week in June, Crawford said. The work includes putting in bike lanes and completing the crosswalks.
“It’s probably going to be a mess when the major road in town gets torn up,” Crawford warned. A more extensive project involving drainage work, road resurfacing and partial utility undergrounding is coming later.
Madeira Way will be shut down every Wednesday from around 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a farmer’s market. The permit for that event runs until the end of the year, Crawford said.